Roger Federer has staged a miraculous fightback to reach a record-equalling 11th Wimbledon semi-final on another history-making day for the incomparable Swiss.
The seven-times champion saved three match points in rallying from two sets down to deny Marin Cilic 6-7 (4-7) 4-6 6-3 7-6 (11-9) 6-3 in a quarter-final thriller at the All England Club.
The epic three-hour, 18-minute victory booked Federer a last-four date on Friday with Canadian sixth seed Milos Raonic, who ended Sam Querrey’s giantkilling run with a 6-4 7-5 5-7 6-4 win earlier on Wednesday.
“The dream continues. I couldn’t be happier because I fought well and played super great in the end,” Federer said.
Apart from edging the 34-year-old ever closer to an unprecedented eighth men’s singles crown on London’s famous grass courts, Federer’s triumph also elevated him above Martina Navratilova as the most prolific winner of grand slam matches tennis has ever seen.
He certainly earned his 306th major win the hard way.
Threatening to repeat his brutal 2014 US semi-final win over Federer, Cilic looked unstoppable in the first two sets.
But displaying all his championship qualities, Federer found a way to eke out the 10th win from two sets down to move to within two victories of an incredible 11th final at the All England Club.
Things looked particularly grim when Federer was serving at 3-3 and love-40 in the third set.
But after holding from the brink of defeat, Federer broke Cilic the very next game after a shaky double-fault from the Croat.
His tail up, Federer smoked a backhand winner to snatch the set and resuscitate his title hopes.
But after being unable to convert either of two break-point chances in the fifth game of the fourth set, Federer stared down match point – on a second serve – at 4-5.
Cilic overcooked his forehand return, but earned a second match point at 5-6, which Federer saved with an ace.
Cilic let the Swiss off again with a netted forehand return when presented with his third match point in the nailbiting tiebreaker.
Federer gained the decisive break in the eighth game of the deciding set before closing it out with his 27th ace.
“A lot happened out there,” said the jubilant third seed.
“Marin’s such a wonderful player. I knew I was in so much trouble in the third and again the fourth.
“It was about staying in the match and getting a little bit lucky, and that’s what happened.
“Obviously the breaker was crazy. It was an incredible match.”
Next up is Raonic, who eliminated Novak Djokovic’s third-round conqueror in far more routine fashion.
It will be Raonic’s second semi-final at the All England Club after falling to Djokovic in 2014.
“It’s a well deserved win for me and to get another shot at the semi-finals,” he said.
“It’s exciting and also humbling.”
Raonic also reached the last four of the Australian Open in January, losing a five-set thriller to Andy Murray.
Murray plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych faces Lucas Pouille in Wednesday’s other quarter-finals.